Toxoplasma

Background

Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Cats are the definitive host for the organism although many warm-blooded animal species can be infected as intermediate hosts.

Infection can be acquired through

  • contact with infected cat faeces
  • eating infected meat

People most at risk include:

  • pregnant women who can pass congenital toxoplasmosis on to their unborn child
  • those with weakened immune systems

After an infected sheep has given birth, the T. gondii parasite is sometimes found in the afterbirth, as well as on newborn lambs. As a result, there's a small risk of toxoplasmosis infection passing from sheep to people during lambing season.

Advice for pregnant women to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis infection is available by visiting the NHS inform website.

Information on the symptoms is available on the NHS website.

Publications

View the 'The prevalence and genotypic analysis of Toxoplasma gondii from individuals in Scotland, 2006–2012' on the National Centre for Biotechnology Information website.